This week in Science Saturday, why warp drive is possible but photon engines aren’t, how comets can shape planetary rings, and scientists discover the secrets of the Nexus. All this and more, plus our gadget of the week: RealSnailMail, e-mails sent via snail!
Lawrence Krauss Explains How Warp Drive is Possible (using a condom)
Lawrence Krauss, cosmologist and particle physicist at Arizona State University and author of best-selling book “The Physics of Star Trek” is known for giving great explanations of what parts of the Star Trek universe work and don’t work in real life. Below is an excellent video of Krauss explaining the real life theory behind how a warp drive could work, using a unique prop.
Why a Photon Engine Can’t Power the Enterprise
Michio Kaku, theoretical physicist, professor, author, and popularizer of science, takes questions every Wednesday on his blog on Big Think. This week he talks about why photon propulsion is not such a practical idea (though, might I add, that this still doesn’t rule out Photon Torpedoes, since we don’t know their exact explosive mechanism!).
Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 Reveals Secrets of Saturn’s Rings
New research suggests that cometary impacts leave a signature in the form of spiral ripples within gas giants’ ring systems. This new discovery came in a comparison between Cassini images of ripples within Saturn’s rings and images taken of the Jovian rings by the Galileo spacecraft a few years after the impact of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 into Jupiter. The comparison revealed that both ring systems show the same spiral ripples. With the new data, scientists can now use ripples within ring systems to pinpoint the precise time and amount of debris in a recent impact event. The results are published in the journal Science.
How Saturn’s rings can become corrugated
More info on this graphic at: CICLOPS.org
Bonus Video: Carolyn Porco & Mike Shara Discuss Saturn Cassini Mission
Carolyn Porco, lead imaging scientists for NASA’s Cassini Mission and science imagery advisor for JJ’s Star Trek sits down with Mike Shara to discuss the Cassini mission
Scientists Unlock Secrets of the Heliosphere “Energy Ribbon”
In a new paper published in The Astrophysical Journal, scientists from NASA’s IBEX mission uncover the secrets of… the Nexus? Yes, there is a mysterious “energy ribbon” in our heliosphere — the big bubble that surrounds and protects our solar system. The study, which captured the energy ribbon using ultra-sensitive cameras, overturns 40 years of theory relating to the structure of the heliosphere. Nathan Schwadron, lead scientist, says, “There are many theories about how the ribbon is created, and we don’t understand exactly what we’re seeing but it seems to be telling us something about how the local galactic magnetic field interacts with the heliosphere.” So, there you have it! We’ve discovered the location of the Nexus, and we’re all living in it!
The REAL Nexus
Video of the Week: Epic Rap Battles – Einstein vs Hawking
Watch two of the greatest minds in history put their freestyling skills to the test.
Image of the Week: First Image from Mercury Orbit
Last week we reported that NASA’s Messenger became the first spacecraft to achieve orbit around the planet Mercury. And this week NASA revealed the first image of Mercury from orbit. The picture of Mercury’s southern hemisphere, taken Tuesday morning, shows the big crater called Debussy along with new details of Mercury’s south pole.
Gadget of the Week: Real Snail Mail Sent by Real Snails
RealSnailMailTM is the world’s first (and presumably only) e-mail delivery service to use ACTUAL snails. Here’s how it works. Simply go to RealSnailMail.net and fill out an e-mail form. From there, your message will be placed in a queue where it will await pickup (this can take years, as the queues are super long and only 13 snail agents are operating). Once your email is at the top of the queue, it awaits an RFID-equipped snail to wander by the message pickup point. Your e-mail then sits inside the snail’s RFID chip until said snail agent decides to wander past the drop off point, some 50 cm away. DVICE’s Evan Ackerman sent an email using snail mail in 2008, and has now told the story of its recent delivery (I really recommend his article, it’s a great read!).
Go to RealSnailMail.net to send your Real Snail Mail!
One of the 13 snail mail agents
Not enough science for you? Here’s a warp-speed look at some more science tid-bits that are worth a peek.